Women urged to take smear tests

ONE in five women in Hastings and Rother invited for smear tests did not turn up for their appointment last year.

All women aged 25 to 64 are urged to take regular checks to avoid cervical cancer going undiagnosed.

NHS bosses are launching the drive to mark Cervical Cancer Awareness Week.

Jenny Greenfield, cervical screening nurse consultant, said: “As always, regular screening is the most effective way of finding a problem early and preventing a cancer from developing.

“Cervical screening can prevent around 75 per cent of cancer cases in women who attend regularly. Many who develop it have never been screened. So you could say the biggest risk is actually not having the regular screening tests.”

Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). The majority of women will come into contact with high risk types of HPV at some time in their life. In most women, their body’s own immune system will get rid of the infection without them ever knowing it was there.

Only a minority who are positive for high risk HPV types will develop cervical abnormalities which could develop into cervical cancer if left untreated.

Screening begins at 25, with invitations for screening repeated every three years until the age of 49, and then every five years between the ages of 50 and 64.

Ms Greenfield said: “HPV is a very common infection and up to 75 per cent of people of reproductive age will be infected with it at some time in their lives. “For the majority of women it won’t cause a lasting problem but every year in the UK, more than 2,800 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and 1,000 women will die from the disease so screening needs to be taken seriously.”

Screening is offered by GP practices, family planning and sexual health clinics. There are regular monthly clinics at Lewes Victoria Hospital and the next dates are Tuesday, February 21 and Tuesday, March 20, from 6pm to 8pm.

Any woman aged 25 to 64 who missed their last screening or is due to have one shortly can book an appointment by calling 01273 474153 ext 2145.